June 16 is the centrepiece of Youth Month in South Africa. On this day, we commemorate the sacrifices made by youth defiantly standing up to the Apartheid regime in the 1976 Soweto Uprising. Hundreds of young people were killed when they protested against the attempt to impose Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in secondary schools—a measure both exclusionary and a violation of their fundamental right to quality education in a language accessible to them.
Today’s youth enjoy the fruits of the hard-fought freedom that those courageous students in 1976 fought for. But nowadays many of youth in our country face other challenges, including, but not in any way limited to, unemployment and exclusion from the mainstream economy. Ironically, part of the reason is the less than optimal education system itself, which, despite gains made since 1994, has inadequately prepared youth for the realities of the 21st century economy.
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 1 June as Global Day of Parents to honour parents across the world “for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.”
Parents are the anchors of the family and the foundation of our communities and societies, educating and socializing children and youth, and caring for young and old.
We salute parents and caregivers—mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings – and the role that they play in raising children: loving them, teaching them, providing for them, supporting them, nurturing them, protecting them and guiding them on their path to a happy, fulfilled and productive life as adults.
On 9 May, the Malawian Ministry of Education, Science and Technology hosted a visit by SDC and MIET Africa (CSTL’s funding and implementing partners, respectively) to two CSTL laboratory schools.
This report by our CEO, Lynn van der Elst
Chingoli is a large primary school (Grades 1–8), with an enrolment of over 2000 learners, who are drawn from a severely impoverished area outside Blantyre. The school was physically destroyed by the floods in 2015, and since then has been operating out of a church hall and tents provided by UNICEF, while it awaits the building of new premises.
During the visit, the principal, teachers, parents and learners all testified about the transformation the school experienced regarding how learners are treated since the introduction of CSTL. Furthermore, we saw the value that CSTL capacity-building has had for the teachers and learners:
Teachers shared with us how they have integrated care and support into the Life Skills curriculum,
B-BBEE for Education NGOs: Regional Workshops to be held in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal
Following on from the Education NGO Leadership Summit, that was hosted by National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) in March 2016, a call for nominations was made for people to serve on an interim Education NGO Steering Committee. The Steering Committee met in December 2016 and has identified B-BBEE as a priority area for Education NGOs. Research has been commissioned, with support from the NECT, and three regional workshops are planned for March 2017:
Young people in southern Africa continue to be among the most affected by HIV&AIDS, and young women and girls are the hardest hit. At MIET Africa, we are passionate about creating educational and development opportunities for children and young people to grow and thrive. In response to the challenges facing young people concerning sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), MIET Africa has developed innovative programmes to reach young people with youth-friendly SRHR education and appropriate support to gird them against the potential risks of HIV, teen pregnancy and gender-based violence, among others.
One important programme that is directed at decreasing teenage pregnancy and HIV infection is called Young Women and Girls: Keeping Girls in School. Education is a protective factor against HIV infection, and is known to reduce vulnerability, particularly for girls, and each year of schooling offers greater protective benefits. This programme therefore focuses on identifying girls who are at risk of dropping out of school and providing them with the appropriate support to ensure that they stay in school,
To commemorate this milestone in our history, and to thank our partners for their support, on Thursday, 24 November, MIET Africa hosted a cocktail function attended by friends and partners including representatives from Ministries of Education from all 15 SADC Member States, who were in Durban to attend the annual Sharing Meeting of SADC’s Care and Support for Teaching and Learning Programme (CSTL).
Guest speakers included Mrs Wilna Botha, one of MIET Africa’s founders, and Prof Volmink, chairperson of MIET Africa’s Board of Trustees. In her speech, Ms Lomthandazo Mavimbela from the SADC Secretariat spoke of MIET Africa as an important regional partner in working towards realizing quality education for all, while Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Director General of the Department of Basic Education, acknowledged MIET Africa’s role in influencing the department to recognize and address the social and economic barriers faced by learners impeding their access to quality education.
On 16 and 17 February, teams from the eight districts involved on Keeping Girls in Schools (KGS) and representatives from the national Department of Basic Education joined MIET Africa at the Riverside Hotel in Durban to share their experiences of implementing the programme.
Teams comprising both provincial and district coordinators, supervisors and principals, as well as learners themselves, gave presentations on the challenges of, and successes from, implementing the programme in their provinces, districts and schools. Their feedback about the impact of the programme was very positive: all three provinces assert that since the introduction of the programme, pregnancies and school drop-outs in the KGS schools have declined, while school retention and academic performance have improved. Learners shared personal experiences of being part of the programme and the impact that it had made on their lives. The meeting closed with a presentation by the assistant programme director of the Networking HIV,
Between 26 and 28 January, 50 provincial and district officials from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) participated in a three-day workshop on the establishment of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
Facilitated by MIET Africa, the workshop was also attended by Mr Dhladhla, CES Professional Continuing Professional Teacher Development at the Department of Basic Education (DBE); Mr. Manganye, Head of Teacher Development at KZN Department of Education (KZNDoE) and Mr Vande Walle, Education Advisor at VVOB (funding partner). The workshop was the first in a series of two, with the second workshop planned for early March.
During the workshop, participants used the DBE’s Guidelines on the Establishment of PLCs to explore the defining characteristics of PLCs. A video of a Free State ‘PLC in action’ kick-started discussions around how PLCs work in practice and the challenges they could face.
“With effect from 20 January 2016, no person, male or female, may enter into any marriage, including an unregistered customary law union or any other union, including one arising out of religion or religious rite, before attaining the age of 18.”
This ground breaking ruling by the full Constitutional Court in Zimbabwe followed an application by two Harare women, themselves former child brides, seeking to challenge the Customary Marriages Act, arguing that the Act was infringing on the constitutional rights of young girls and boys and exposing the girl child to the devastating consequences of early marriage: depriving girls of an education, exposing them to sexual violence, increasing the risks of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, early pregnancy and related maternal and child mortality. Both the incidence of child marriage and the consequences are exacerbated by poverty, especially in rural areas with poor access to services.
Smiling and laughter; jumping and shouting for joy! Such were the excited scenes when four MIET Africans recently distributed gifts to the young children of the Edith Benson Babies Home.
The Edith Benson Babies Home in Sherwood, Durban, cares for about 60 children, who range in age from new born to five. They have all been abandoned, orphaned, abused or neglected, and placed in care by court order. Some are on ARVs, or are receiving treatment for TB.
Traditionally, the festive season is the time for giving. So MIET Africa staff pooled resources amongst themselves to buy colouring-in books, crayons, cars and dolls–enough to give each child a gift–as well as to provide the home with a few items of stationery.
Many thanks to the staff at MIET Africa for making this personal contribution to improving the lives of children.